A volunteer who shaved her head for a children’s hospice has been left shocked after a thief swiped her sponsorship money. The cash was snatched from behind the counter at the Demelza charity book shop in Mortimer Street between 12.55pm and 1.05pm last Thursday.
Staff were left stunned when they realised the £37 had been taken 10 minutes after a suspicious man left the store. While in the shop he told volunteers he had reserved a book and walked behind the counter pretending to help them search for it. He even lied that there was an elderly man around the corner of the L-shaped store who needed help.
While the volunteers’ backs were turned, it is believed he grabbed the small plastic bag of money from a shelf under the till and fled. The funds were raised by manager of Demelza’s William Street shop, 47 year old Sue Smy. After the theft, she said:
“It’s horrible that anyone would steal from a charity shop. It’s not like we do it to make a profit. It’s the people who have donated who I feel sorry for. They’ve tried to do a good thing and this has happened.”
Jenny Manners, who has volunteered at the Mortimer Street shop for more than a decade, was working when the thief struck. She said:
“It all happened so quickly. After he left, we thought he was a bit odd. It wasn’t until about 10 minutes later that we realised the money was missing. We were all quite upset about it. He was an opportunist who used distraction techniques. We’re just thankful he wasn’t aggressive. I know a lot of shoplifting goes on but It’s even worse in a charity shop, especially for a children’s hospice.”
Demelza’s head of retail, Claire Jordan, added:
“It is very sad that someone would choose to steal from a charity shop. The money was being collected towards a sponsored head shave to raise funds to support life-limited and life-threatened children and their families in the Herne Bay area. Demelza gets very little government support so relies on the generosity of the general public to continue this vital support day in day out. Nearly £40 was stolen from our bookshop, which could have paid for two art therapy sessions, enabling young people to have fun and opportunities they may not usually have to create masterpieces as well as express difficult thoughts and feelings.”
The suspect is described as aged in his 30s, about 6ft tall, with light brown hair and wearing a blue top.
Herne Bay Gazette, June 26th 2014